Zika virus is a mosquito-borne pathogen that to date has been found in at least 31 people in the United States and has been linked to a rise in birth defects in Brazil. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) issued new guidelines for pregnant women last week as the expected numbers of positive cases of Zika Virus within the U.S. are expected to rise. The CDC is advising any pregnant women who have traveled to countries where the Zika virus is prevalent including Venezuela and Columbia to get tested for the virus immediately.
Yellow Fever & Asian Tiger Mosquitoes Carry Many Diseases
Outbreaks of Zika have been found in areas of Africa, Southeast Asia, the Pacific Islands and the Americas. The virus is spread through the yellow fever mosquito (Aedes aegypti) & Asian tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus) both of which are found throughout the world including the Southeast United States. The Aedes aegypti is the same carrier responsible for the recent outbreak of dengue fever which resulted in 224 confirmed cases in Hawaii. Both mosquitoes are known carriers of yellow fever and chikungunya virus as well as dengue fever.
Zika Virus Birth Defects
Zika virus has been linked to birth defects, including microcephaly which results in babies being born with abnormally small heads. There is no cure for microcephaly and depending on the severity of the condition; symptoms can result in reduced physical and mental development including difficulty walking and learning, hearing loss, and vision difficulties. Life expectancy is greatly reduced.
Aggressive Aedes Aegypti Zika Virus Transmission
Aedes Aegypti is an aggressive mosquito that is active during the day and will typically lay eggs in standing water including buckets, flower pots, pet water bowls, and trash cans. Mosquitoes can be found indoors and outdoors. According to researchers, mosquitoes become infected when they feast on the blood of an infected person during the first week after the initial bite. Further research indicates that infected mosquitoes can spread the virus to other hosts through mosquito to person contact during the 7 day incubation period.
Zika Virus Symptoms
Symptoms of Zika virus include fever, rash, joint pain and conjunctivitis. The illness is typically mild with the symptoms lasting from several days to a week. According to health officials, a high proportion of patients have no symptoms at all, which is of great concern to virologists who believe that the likelihood of the disease becoming established in the United States is increased since individuals may not know that they are infected.
Zika Virus in the USA
Is Zika Virus in the United States? According to public health officials, the answer is yes. Although to date there is no evidence to suggest that the virus has begun to spread locally. Most recently, officials in Harris County, Texas, found a middle-aged woman had contracted the disease in El Salvador before returning to Texas. Other cases have been reported in Texas, Florida, Illinois, Hawaii, New York, and Washington DC to name a few; all of which involved infected persons had recently traveled overseas.
Zika Virus Prevention & Treatment
There are no vaccines currently available for the Zika Virus and medical professionals advise that prevention is the key to stopping the disease from spreading. Protect yourself by using insect repellents, wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants before venturing outdoors, and emptying containers of standing water including flower pots, and trash cans, etc.
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